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Norman Manea

Aesthetics as East Ethics

Claudiu Turcuș

The book offers the very first critical biography on Norman Manea, a widely respected writer and multiple Nobel Prize Nominee. It follows two main objectives: an aesthetic interpretation of his literature and a contextualization of his ethical discourse. Manea's aesthetics is seen also as an Eastern European ethics, significant for the writer’s status while living and working under the Communist censorship in a totalitarian state and in the global context of World literature.

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Part Two: East Ethics

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183 Chapter I. The Inopportune Archive 1. One Interview, Two Identitarian Guilts Notwithstanding the Zhdanovist cultural policy reiterated by the Ceauşescu re- gime after 1971 (Cordoş, “Rezistenţa” 13–15), the formal abolition of censorship generated an ambiguous deployment of the control exerted by the nationalist- communist institutions� The writers initially took advantage of this situation and speculated the hypocritical rhetoric of Power� Between 1979 and 1981, the confu- sion that existed at the institutional level meant that instead of being ostensively abolished, censorship was actually absent� Later, however, given the establishment of the Council for Socialist Culture and Education, the situation became exasperat- ing, as implicit censorship (officially unacknowledged as such, this time), operated somewhat randomly, outside strict rules� If we were to speculate, the motivation behind this process lay, on the one hand, in Nicolae Ceauşescu’s cynical-naïve be- lief that writers had developed a socialist consciousness and, hence, that they no longer had to be censored� On the other hand, this bizarre measure might be in- terpreted as an attempt to confuse the opponents of the system, instilling in them the “nostalgic” regret for a mechanism that once used to function rigorously� There is no wonder, therefore, that the publication of The Apprenticeship Years (1979) encountered no resistance from the regime, while The Black Envelope (1986) was mutilated by a censorship that apparently did not exist, but that was rather drasti- cally enforced, in the absence of any criteria whatsoever� In fact, the explanation why...

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